Let’s say you’re in the midst of a job search, and it’s not going well.
DON’T make the mistake of assuming that it’s because of some fatal issue with your work history, or your worth as a candidate. This is hardly ever the case.
Instead, look to these 3 factors which may be sabotaging your efforts:
1) A Generic Career Platform
When you’re just starting out, a career platform is all about establishing credibility. And for most of us, that means emulating the career platforms of others. Using their keywords. Highlighting the same things they highlight within their resume. And generally trying not to rock the boat or stand out in a negative way.
This will only take you so far.
Once you reach a certain level of seniority, or are perceived to be a thought leader within your industry, employers will not be satisfied with generic.
They want to see a unique perspective. They want to see unique value. And here’s the tricky part- they want to see all of this WITHOUT SACRIFICING the credibility piece.
Here’s how to optimize your career platform accordingly:
a) Identify the “Must Haves”
Study the LinkedIn Profiles of your competitors: people who have roughly the same job title, work in the same industry, and have roughly the same education and training background. What key aspects of their background are called out time and time again? For example, are your competitors frequently calling out their experience leading Big Data initiatives, or their ability to launch disruptive tech solutions within change-resistant industries like Healthcare, or their ability to stabilize funding for early-stage start-ups? Jot down a list of the “Must Have” details and make sure that they’re heavily emphasized within your Resume and LinkedIn Profile. This is your core foundation, and it will ensure that the successive improvements you make won’t “throw out the baby with the bathwater” by removing essentials.
b) Identify Your “Core Stories”
Your Core Stories are the moments in your career where you took flight. They’re the big successes you pulled off. The positive change you helped make happen. Yes, they can be supported with metrics (if available) but a great Core Story is about what’s truly meaningful to you, not just what may impress an employer. Write these down. These are the raw materials which you’ll use to permanently shut down any hint of the generic within your career platform.
c) Must Haves + Core Stories = Unique Career Platform
Pay special attention to the opening section of your Resume, as well as the LinkedIn Headline and Summary Sections- this is prime real estate for your career platform. Now start meshing together your Core Stories along with the Must Have details within these sections. The magic of this approach is that not only do you establish a high level of credibility, but you do so in a way that is authentic, fully in your voice and impossible to directly compare against others (very important). This is the alchemy which separates a nice-but-forgettable career platform from one which is instantly memorable.
2) Overdoing it on the Follow-Ups
You can’t push someone into offering you a role. On some level, communications need to be reciprocated. All of which is to say: DEFINITELY follow up, but read the tea leaves at the same time. By all means, fire off a thank you note after a face-to-face interview. If you said you’d respond to a question within 1 day, ALWAYS keep your word. And if they said they’d get back to you and they didn’t, of course, you should follow up. But never take this past the point of self-respect. If they clearly can’t be bothered to live up to their promises, feel free to move onto other opportunities.
3) Not Tapping Your Inner Circle
Pursuing “cold opportunities” and answering job postings should be the absolute last resort.
I’d recommend starting in the exact opposite place: messaging those people who already know, like, and trust you. Your inner circle. Set up some calls, share what you’re after, and ask if they can make an introduction to someone useful in their network. “Warm up” those valuable, yet dormant connections with former bosses and colleagues. You can even send out a personalized “email blast” message to friends and family letting them know WHY you’re looking right now, WHAT you’re looking for, and HOW they can help.
Remember: there is nothing wrong or shameful about wanting to better your career. Don’t keep the people who are most likely to help you in the dark about this- enlist them as advocates on your behalf!